NFL Draft 2016: Updated Mock Draft for Nation's Top Prospects

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistJanuary 20, 2016

Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland leads current NFL draft talk.
Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland leads current NFL draft talk.Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL draft remains the most necessary gamble of all time in sports.

Last year, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn't have a choice but to pick between quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. Early returns suggest both will work out. Other top-tier prospects such as defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. and wide receiver Kevin White, though, got off to rough starts thanks to the injury bug. 

Those guys have plenty of time to turn it around, sure. But they serve as just the latest examples of the draft being the ultimate gamble, even after the research, scouts zipping around the nation and lack of sleep. 

The 2016 class will feature all the same things, which isn't bad for an outsider looking in at the action. In the early throes of the process, here's how the draft projects to shake out. 

2016 NFL Mock Draft

PickTeamPlayerPositionSchool
1Tennessee TitansLaremy TunsilOTOle Miss
2Cleveland BrownsJared GoffQBCalifornia
3San Diego ChargersRonnie StanleyOTNotre Dame
4Dallas CowboysJoey BosaDLOhio State
5Jacksonville JaguarsJalen RamseyCB/SFlorida State
6Baltimore RavensMackensie AlexanderCBClemson
7San Francisco 49ersMyles JackLBUCLA
8Miami DolphinsReggie RaglandLBAlabama
9Tampa Bay BuccaneersDeForest BucknerDEOregon
10New York GiantsLeonard FloydLBGeorgia
11Chicago BearsJack ConklinOTMichigan State
12New Orleans SaintsPaxton LynchQBMemphis
13Philadelphia EaglesTaylor DeckerOTOhio State
14Oakland RaidersVernon Hargreaves IIICBFlorida
15Los Angeles RamsCarson WentzQBNorth Dakota State
16Detroit LionsEzekiel ElliottRBOhio State
17Atlanta FalconsShilique CalhounDEMichigan State
18Indianapolis ColtsA'Shawn RobinsonDTAlabama
19Buffalo BillsJarran ReedDLAlabama
20New York JetsShaq LawsonDEClemson
21WashingtonLaquon TreadwellWROle Miss
22Houston TexansSheldon RankinsDTLouisville
23Minnesota VikingsMichael ThomasWROhio State
24Cincinnati BengalsEmmanuel OgbahDEOklahoma State
25Green Bay PackersRobert NkemdicheDLOle Miss
26Kansas City ChiefsCorey ColemanWRBaylor
27Pittsburgh SteelersKendall FullerCBVirginia Tech
28Seattle SeahawksNoah SpenceDE/LBEastern Kentucky
29Denver BroncosJason SpriggsOTIndiana
30Arizona CardinalsJaylon SmithLBNotre Dame
31Carolina PanthersEli AppleCBOhio State
Author's projections.

Breaking Down Notable Picks

1. Tennessee Titans: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss

Laremy Tunsil has the traits of a No. 1 pick.
Laremy Tunsil has the traits of a No. 1 pick.Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

The Tennessee Titans were the team to land Mariota.

Great, but they didn't do much for him. None of Mariota's wideouts eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark, and the offensive line let up 38 sacks. Taylor Lewan did well on the left side, but Byron Bell started eight games at right tackle and ranked as Pro Football Focus' 43rd tackle in the league. Jeremiah Poutasi started the other eight and ranked 46th.

So while it might be boring, the Titans need to draft the top tackle in the class. This year, it's Laremy Tunsil from the Ole Miss Rebels, a 6'5", 305-pound mauler who looks every bit the part of a pro tackle on either side of the line.

Rarely do offensive linemen look as good out of the gate as Tunsil. Believe it or not, offensive tackle continues to suffer by the year from the same spread offenses that make most rookie quarterbacks ill-prepared for the pro level.

Not with Tunsil, though. He's an old-school freak athlete for his size who recognizes stunts and combos and more in pass protection and can get to the second level to punish linebackers in the running game.

Maybe it's boring. But having top-tier players on both edges of the line will do nothing short of ensure Mariota's peace of mind.

8. Miami Dolphins: Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama

Ragland looks like one of the best inside linebackers to enter the draft in recent memory.
Ragland looks like one of the best inside linebackers to enter the draft in recent memory.Butch Dill/Associated Press

Linebackers in the top 10 have mixed reactions most years.

Expect this to be the case with the Alabama Crimson Tide's Reggie Ragland, the 2015 SEC Defensive Player of the Year.

Ragland doesn't have the most impressive numbers from a testing standpoint. He's not a versatile linebacker who will blow you away with numbers, nor will he flash a vast array of pass-rushing moves before slamming into quarterbacks.

As Bleacher Report's Matt Miller noted, though, sometimes it goes beyond the numbers:

Numbers don't seem to apply to Ragland, who projects to fit well on the inside of any scheme. He rarely takes a bad first step and is one of those linebackers who somehow, someway, is always around the football.

The Miami Dolphins understand what a linebacker like that can do for a defense. While the line up front boasts Ndamukong Suh and others, the linebackers look like a hodgepodge of names in need of a few upgrades, if not a leader outright.

Ragland can be all of those things at once right out of the gate.

14. Oakland Raiders: Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida

Vernon Hargreaves isn't far from being the best defensive back in the class.
Vernon Hargreaves isn't far from being the best defensive back in the class.John Raoux/Associated Press

This continues to shape up as a tough year for defensive backs to break through. 

There are three main names at the top, with Mackensie Alexander from the Clemson Tigers, Jalen Ramsey of the Florida State Seminoles and former Florida Gators cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III all seemingly fighting for the top slot.

Not that the Oakland Raiders will complain.

Oakland's losing the legendary Charles Woodson this offseason. Even with him, the defense ranked only 26th against the pass while allowing 24.9 points per game. The unit doesn't have a surefire player stepping in at safety, and the depth outside of DJ Hayden and David Amerson at corner could use a boost.

It's Hargreaves who falls in this scenario, which isn't such a bad thing based on a write-up by CBS Sports' Rob Rang. After praising his ability to read a quarterback's eyes and coverage traits, Rang detailed Hargreaves' willingness to shutter the run:

Scouts will also appreciate that unlike some of the other highly regarded defensive backs throughout the country, Hargreaves is far from just a cover corner. He's very aggressive in run support, fighting his way through blocks and showing zero hesitation in taking on bigger ballcarriers. On most occasions, Hargreaves makes the effective stop, often significantly cutting short the yards gained in impressive fashion.

Hargreaves seems like the complete package. At one point during the season, folks didn't bat an eye at considering him a top-five pick.

Maybe his 5'11", 199-pound frame has something to do with the hesitation. But like Ragland above, numbers only mean so much when looking at NFL prospects. Hargreaves has instant contributor with high upside written all over him.

Stats courtesy of NFL.com and are accurate as of January 20. All advanced metrics courtesy of Pro Football Focus.

Follow Chris_Roling on Twitter

Related

    Jimmy G's Injury Turns 49ers' Dream Season to a Nightmare

    NFL logo
    NFL

    Jimmy G's Injury Turns 49ers' Dream Season to a Nightmare

    Brad Gagnon
    via Bleacher Report

    Should the Cowboys Bench Dak?

    NFL logo
    NFL

    Should the Cowboys Bench Dak?

    Tyler Conway
    via Bleacher Report

    Matthews' Penalty Stirs Up Another Rule Controversy

    NFL logo
    NFL

    Matthews' Penalty Stirs Up Another Rule Controversy

    Mike Freeman
    via Bleacher Report

    Rosen Makes NFL Debut vs. Bears

    NFL logo
    NFL

    Rosen Makes NFL Debut vs. Bears

    Scott Polacek
    via Bleacher Report